Betway Lincoln Handicap 1m Str Doncaster Saturday – Both our selections in last week’s Mares Novices Hurdle Finale Handicap ran with credit. Our E.W. selection Copper Kay finished an honourable second, and our first choice, Tara View ran on strongly to claim fourth place in the sixteen runner handicap, at odds of 9/1. The latter has to be the one to take out of the race, as going down the inside, she met trouble at the fourth last, and was shuffled back, losing her momentum. However she bravely got going again, and coming from an impossible position ran on strongly to save her supporters their e.w. cash. With better luck in running she would have troubled the useful winner, Snow Leopardess, to whom she was conceding 9lbs, confirming that she is still improving, so keep her in mind for the 20f listed Mares Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham’s April fixture.
There will be no obstacles to negotiate in Saturday’s big handicap, but with twenty two runners coming under orders for the cavalry charge up Doncaster’s straight mile, the winner will have plenty of other challenges to overcome, underlining the benefit of previous experience in similar contests. Form over a straight mile, particularly at Newmarket, has figured in the profile of plenty of previous winners, as has plenty of racing experience, with all of the last six winners having competed at least fifteen times. Babodana, thirteen years ago was the last winner to carry more than 9st4lbs but with a very compressed handicap range of probably less than a stone between the top and bottom weights, don’t be surprised to see this barrier breached again. One of the more likely looking candidates to do so, is the Roger Charlton trained Yuften.
This 6yo son of Invincible Spirit has run sixteen times, winning on three occasions. Originally trained by William Haggas, he spent a period in Ireland under the tutelage of Johnny Murtagh until returning last summer to England, into the care of Mr Charlton, who has put the horse on a firmly upwards trajectory. The gelding found Newmarkets 7f on the sharp side, when going down by less than 1L last September, racing off a mark of 100, but showed what he was capable of three weeks later in the Balmoral Handicap over Ascot’s straight mile. Racing off a mark of 101 he took it up one furlong out, and stayed on well to win the valuable Class2 nineteen runner contest by a length. A winner over Newmarkets straight mile in 2014, Yuften made a highly satisfactory reappearance in Wolverhampton’s 7f Lincoln Trial three weeks ago, finishing strongly, to just fail, by a nose and a short head off Saturday’s mark of 105. He will be ridden by last years winning pilot, William Buick and has plenty to recommend him.
The 4yo Morando, trained by Roger Varian (pictured below), despite meeting trouble in running, finished seventh, 2 1/2L behind Yuften in that Balmoral Handicap, and meets the Charlton horse on 4lbs better terms. The winner of his three previous races, including a competitive fourteen runner 1m Ayr Handicap, which he won very easily off a mark of 96, the only negative in his profile, would seem to be his lack of experience. However there are plenty of positives about this very progressive 4yo, not least the bullish reports from the Newmarket Gallops, and the likely easy ground at the weekend. In the hands of master trainer Varian’s, Morando has to be on the shortlist.
It was easy to see why John Gosden persevered with the difficult to train 6yo, Sacred Act, when, having his first run for nearly a year and a half, he came home in eye taking fashion from a near impossible position, to pull a Class3 Sandown handicap out of the fire off a mark of 89 last September. He is 7lbs higher at the weekend, and his inexperience, (has only run five times) is against him, but trainer Gosden, having won with Expresso Star in 2009 knows what is required, and if getting into Saturday’s race, (needs five above him to come out) is worth considering.
Richard Fahey has won two of the last five renewals and is mob handed at the time of writing. His 2015 winner Gabrial is racing off an 8lbs higher mark and has been disappointing in Dubai this winter, but both his 5yo Third Time Lucky, and his 4yo Nimr have attracted some interest in the Markets. The former has been running well on the All Weather this winter, and has won over 11f at Newmarket, but faces a very tough task off a mark of 106, eleven pounds higher than he has ever won off, so perhaps Nimr represents his best chance. He hasn’t run on grass since last June, but won a 1m1/2f Class2 Wolverhampton handicap three weeks ago by 1 3/4L and is only one pound higher on Saturday. However he needs nine above him in the handicap to come out to get a run.
Selection : Morando
E.W. : Yuften